Fantastic post Tom! There's a lot of confusion on direct traffic to begin with. These are even more finer nuances that you have explained. I have a client whose top source of traffic is direct, and part of it is maybe due to the fact that they don't do any promotion, and it's mostly shared around internally within their team. But I just noticed that their URL is http and not https so this might be something for me to take back to the team. Thanks!
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Here is a common narrative that many e-tailers can relate to: You identified your “sweet spot” in the marketplace and know that charging above this threshold leads to price sensitivity. Your core products drive volume — which allows you to achieve amazing growth. Then, one day, your focus shifted. Maybe you stopped churning out iterations of your best sellers, or maybe you tried to focus on your higher-revenue products — all the while alienating the people who liked your previous offerings.
Organic search traffic used to just mean the amount of traffic that came to your site via someone who found your site using a search engine. Then, you could drill down into more detail to see which keyword they searched to get to your website. For example, we might learn that someone came to HubSpot.com by searching the keyword phrase "inbound marketing." This is important to know because it helps businesses understand which keywords are driving the most traffic, leads, and customers so they can develop better-informed content and keyword strategies.
Referral traffic is the third most important source, bringing 8.3% of total traffic to the leading retailers’ websites. There are four online retailers that receive significantly more referral traffic than others: Amazon, Apple, Walmart, and Gap. Live.com is their leading referral source sending nearly 3% of traffic to these sites. Also, we see that Amazon often directs its visitors to Walmart , which brings this company 3% of its traffic. And Amazon itself receives most of its traffic from Amazon-affiliated sources such as Primevideo.com and Audible.com.
For a small business, it is better to start with Organic SEO because aside from it is a low-cost investment, it will build your internet presence gradually and eventually have a solid foundation in your own niche – provided that you are doing the right way. It is not bad to invest in non-organic. You just have to make sure that you are investing on the right campaigns and not on the overly artificial ways to gain traffic and rank. Avoid investing too much on paid advertising and instead invest on creating relevant and useful content.
Cheers for sharing that thread, I'd not read it. I think most of the confusion here arises because of how standard GA reports work on a last non-direct click basis - if there's a previous campaign within timeout, that user will be attributed to that campaign, even if they're technically returning via direct. MCF reports are the exception, of course, given that they show *actual* direct.
The other way visitors can access your website is by coming from other websites; in this instance, the user lands on your website after following a link from another site. The link that the user clicked on is referred to as a “backlink,” as it links back to your website. This traffic is much more beneficial to the search engine optimization (SEO) of your website as opposed to direct traffic, which has little to no effect. The reason is that Google and other search engines interpret backlinks as little doses of credibility for your website. If other credible websites are linking to your site, that must mean it is comprised of relevant and accurate content, which is exactly what search engines want.
However, this may not be the case for your company or your clients. You may start by looking at keyword rankings, and realize that you’re no longer ranking on the first page for ten of your core keywords. If that’s the case, you quickly discovered your issue, and your game plan should be investing in your core pages to help get them ranking again for these core keywords.
For our client: We rolled out a successful implementation of rel="author" for the three in-house content writers the company had. The client had over 300+ articles made by these content writers over the years and it was possible to implement rel="author" for all the aged articles. I advise anyone who has a large section of content to do so as it will only benefit the website. We were also in the process of rolling out further schema markup to the site's course content as it only has a benefit for CTR.
Relying too much on one source of traffic is a risky strategy. A particular channel or strategy can be fantastic for generating traffic today, but it doesn’t mean it will stay the same tomorrow. Some sites lost out when Penguin started penalizing on certain SEO linking practices. Others lost out when Facebook decided to massively restrict organic reach. If your site relies exclusively on only one source of traffic, then algorithm changes can create some serious trouble for you. So be aware of the importance of diversifying and know the options available from different traffic sources.